Presented on Wednesday, September 28, 2011 in the Barn at Quarry Farm. For most of us, the author Mark Twain is indelibly linked with his classic books about two juvenile delinquents, Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. The scenes of Tom flimflamming his buddies into whitewashing a fence and Huck and Jim floating down the river to freedom on a raft easily come to mind. What doesn't pop into our heads, however, is Mark Twain's writings about the natural world in its myriad forms. Read any of his travel books and you will find pages, even chapters filled with his firsthand descriptions of and reactions to Nature's realm. This presentation will survey the styles and themes of Mark Twain's nature writing in his second book Roughing It. As we explore Mark Twain's nature, an overlooked and undervalued dimension of his writing will emerge that deserves our full attention and appreciation.
Michael Pratt is an Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at Elmira College.